MotoGP: Night delight after Qatar’s historic race

Published: 12 March 2008

One of the key figures behind the mammoth Qatar night race project has spoken of his relief and satisfaction after the historic first night race passed off without any problems or major complaints from riders.

Musco Lighting vice-president Jeff Rogers is a key member of the team that has meticulously planned the world’s biggest sport lighting project, which was completed in less than six months at an estimated cost of around £7m.

MCN caught up with Jeff Rogers during the historic race weekend in the Middle East.

MCN: How relieved are you that the race passed off without any problems?

Jeff Rogers: “We are very relieved and very satisfied. Dorna, the MotoGP paddock and the Losail circuit people have all been great to work with and we have had a lot of co-operation from riders.

“We got nothing but positive comments and really haven’t had anything that was negative.

“I was a little nervous but it’s been good and exciting to have it finally start and get people’s thoughts on it. This is a major milestone for us and it was a big deal.”

MCN: Have you have any moments when you thought you weren’t going to make the deadline?

Jeff Rogers: “We fully lit the whole circuit for the first time on February 5 and we flew our engineers in and they were here for ten days doing light level checks and all that sort of thing.

“We had more concerns from a construction standpoint. This is not the easiest part of the world to work in because there is an incredible amount of building work going on.

“So trying to find sub-contractors and even raw material like steel and concrete is not easy.

MCN: Did you have specific areas of concern?

Jeff Rogers: “One area was making sure the marshal stands were visible. We had some issues with that even as late as just before the test.

“We had to make some modifications where we added some white material on the front and the back so the darker coloured flags were visible for the riders.

“That was a last-minute change and we only found that out by doing simulations running a bike round the track before the test.”

MCN: Had there been any significant problems, would you have time to make them for the race?

Jeff Rogers: “We can make modifications. You couldn’t do huge modifications but little tinkering with the light beams on the inside fixtures we did to shift those around but not major stuff.

“We did a test in America and then another test in Qatar in November and that was so that when we arrived here we didn’t have to worry about any major changes.”

MCN: What special challenges did you face with this project?

Jeff Rogers: “We are used for motorsport projects but only on oval circuits. A road course itself presents with many different angles and changes in direction.

“In a car the driver stays pretty much in the same position all the time. On a bike their heads and body are moving back and forth all the time and that creates a phenomenon that you don’t get with four-wheeled vehicles.

“So that was a challenge and the fact that the corners went in several different directions is an issue.

“We have done some small road course projects but nothing on the scale and the requirements that MotoGP has.”

MCN: So compared to other projects, how big was this?

Jeff Rogers: “This is the biggest that has ever been done. It is a huge project and they’re over 3600 lights out there.

“The biggest one before this was Daytona, which is a 2.5 miles track.

“Here its 3.3 miles and the light levels for MotoGP are higher than what we have done at NASCAR tracks.

MCN: How do you decide on light position and angles then to give the riders maximum light?

Jeff Rogers: “We had video tapes from this race track and the lighting engineers spent hours watching that video from all different perspectives to look and see what the bikes are doing in which corner, and what the line is through a corner.

“That’s a lot of time analysing video tapes and we also study photographs.”

MCN: Some riders spoke of a small issue with shadows, but it must be impossible to eliminate them?

Jeff Rogers: “It is really impossible to eliminate shadows because anytime you have light sources you have them, even in he daytime.

“What we try to do is create a lot of shadows but have them soft. If you have a lot of shadows then the light is coming from a lot of directions.

“From just one source you get a really harsh shadow, but lots of softer shadows seem to be easier to deal with, but like anything they have to get used to it.”

MCN: Is the goal to try and replicate daylight conditions as closely as you can?

Jeff Rogers: “You can never replicate daylight. You just can’t do that. We think we can make it sometimes almost better because you can bring the focus down to the race track.

“We don’t try to replicate daylight, we just want to make sure we provide good visibility for the riders and the marshals and TV and balance all those things out.

“That’s the real trick because what TV likes is different to what everybody else wants.”